10 Reasons Why

10 Reasons Why Yard Work Is Not Your Friend

1. Getting the lawn mower out of the shed

Once upon a time, we thought it would be really cute to convert the garage into another den, because we had too much furniture in the rest of the house. (I have an inability to consider where I’m going to put something before I buy it.) Long story short, we bought two large sheds for the back yard, thinking this would be more than enough storage room to accommodate the non-car items that would normally live in the garage that no longer was.

We were sadly mistaken with this line of thought.

It started out okay, as most things do. I built shelves out there, purchased handy bins of varying sizes, and had everything so organized and efficient that I thought about entering myself in some type of competition, resulting in me appearing in a magazine spread, posing smartly next to a rack of perfectly-wound extension cords.

This amazing planning and tidiness lasted approximately three days. Then things went to hell.

When you have sheds that nobody else enters (unlike your house where you have to make sure there’s no unsightly underwear hanging from the ceiling fans), it becomes very easy to adopt an attitude of “just throw whatever it is through the door and you can put it back in the right place later”.

But later never comes. Before you know it, you have startling mounds of crap piled everywhere. And the one thing that you currently need for whatever task you’re doing, such as a lawnmower, ends up buried under a mountain of bulky items that are difficult to move. How did this happen? I don’t remember making this mess. Perhaps evil neighbors are sneaking into the sheds after midnight, wreaking havoc and stacking things in a dangerous, unsteady manner. Maybe it’s a cult thing.

So there you are in the shed, tugging and pulling and shoving and ripping, groaning in the unnatural mayhem, sweat pouring down your back as you swear you will never let things get this bad again. (Your resolve, of course, immediately evaporates as soon as you finally rescue whatever you need. When you return later with that item, you will simply throw it on top of the shortest pile and slam the door.)

2. Mowing

This is devil’s work. It’s one thing when you have a riding lawnmower, making it basically like driving a car except the roads are smaller and there are more turns. But when your yard isn’t quite big enough to justify a riding mower, you end up with the push kind, and your sanity is tested as you shove the thing back and forth across the lawn, muscles straining as the roaring motor belches exhaust in your face.

Along the same lines, a push mower is not so bad when it’s a crisp Spring morning where you barely break a sweat. But this is Texas. We only have crisp mornings roughly twice a year. The rest of the time, streets are buckling from the heat by 9am. This means that sweat is pouring off of you in waves, blinding you with a salty, burning wetness that causes you to unknowingly wander into the street and get hit by a UPS truck delivering a fruit-of-the-month to your creepy neighbor with the bad dye job.

So how do I deal with this in a logical and cost-effective manner? I keep buying new lawnmowers, bigger and better ones with the latest technology. (The newest feature I had to have? A push mower that starts with a key. Because having to pull that ripcord is so two-thousand and late.) Apparently I’m operating under the impression that if I keep buying new models, I will eventually find one that mows the entire lawn for me while I sit in the air-conditioned house, using the XBOX 360 controller to send directions.

3. Emptying the grass catcher.

Picture this: There I am, carefully inserting the plastic trash bag into the over-sized Rubbermaid barrel that I use for the grass clippings. I meticulously stretch and tuck the opening of the bag around the rim of the barrel so it will stay open while I dump things into it. I disengage the grass catcher from the lawnmower, grunt and hoist the contraption over the barrel, and very cautiously tilt the catcher so I can control the flow and force of the debris.

Three tiny blades of grass trickle out and plink to the bottom of the trash sack, light as a feather. Yet somehow, due to some metaphysical concept that I do not understand, this is just enough pressure to cause the trash bag to rip loose from the top of the barrel. The bag becomes a shiny puddle at the bottom of the barrel, right as the remaining two tons of grass in the catcher break free and thunder into the barrel, burying the plastic bag. I now have to start over.

This makes me completely insane.

Oh, and if the bag does manage to stay in place, there’s still that business with dust and bits of grass billowing out of the barrel, instantly coating my sweat-drenched skin with enough breading that they might as well throw my ass in a deep fryer and serve me with hush puppies.

4. Trimming

Due to some inexplicable deficiency, I am unable to trim the edges of the lawn (sidewalks, curbs) using any of the available mechanical devices that are in my budget. I refuse to buy a “real” professional edger, because those things are so expensive it would destroy me spiritually to buy one and then prove an inadequate operator. (Yet I’ll buy every season of “The X Files” on Blu-Ray without even looking at the price. I obviously have some issues when it comes to the functional worth of things.)

I’ve tried using various flavors of the moderately-priced “weed-eater”, like that pole thing with the deadly, spinning nylon cord or the attachment for the side of your lawnmower that looks suspiciously like a bone-saw used by serial killers. I just don’t have the talent for these things. My efforts never look very good, with ragged edges and entire patches of ground annihilated. (Not to mention the inevitable weed-eating of my own shins, despite my best intentions, leaving bloody welts on my legs as if my shoelaces have risen up and sought my death in the name of some footwear revolution.)

So I usually end up doing the trimming by hand, using some manual clippers that can cut through, at best, two blades of grass at a time. It takes me four months to make it around the yard once, but at least it’s pretty and precise for thirty minutes or so. Then again, with all that repetitive scissor action, I am no longer able to fully extend the fingers on my right hand.

5. Raking up leaves.

I have already done an entire blog post about this heinous and despicable act. Suffice it to say that we have five billion trees in our yard. The leaves never stop falling, no matter what time of year it might be. I could rake every day and it wouldn’t matter. So I just let them pile up until I get a notice from the city. Then I move.

6. Cleaning out the gutters.

Help me understand how, within mere weeks, enough dirt builds up in the gutters that small forests can grow? Annoying forests, with mean little trees that have grappling roots that will not let go, as if bolted to the core of the Earth. I just don’t get it.

7. Carrying bags to the curb.

We have curb-side pickup once a month, for “bulky trash”, a phrase with an elusive definition, based on the shocking things that some people will chunk into their front yard. (There’s nothing like driving down the street and seeing archaic toilets, mattresses with alarming stains, and questionable boxes that just might be dripping blood, sprawled across neighboring yards.) I will confess to dragging a stove or two out there, but mostly it’s just lawn-maintenance detritus.

Trouble is, you can only put these things out during the week of the scheduled pickup. Otherwise, bitter men in official white cars will hand you tickets. Obviously, you have to mow multiple times between pickups, so our monthly contribution to the “Bulky Trash Festivities” grows considerably as the pile festers in the back yard.

And I do mean fester. While the pile consumes acreage, awaiting Judgment Day, the heavens regularly open up and bless us with torrents of purifying rain. This delightful rain manages to seep into the bags of clippings and leaves (no matter how artfully you arrange them), marinates for a bit, and then bakes in the fetid heat. This creates monstrous bags of thick porridge, each of them now weighing two hundred pounds.

Bags which then have to be carried to the front curb. An activity that terrifies my soul.

As the horrible Transport Day approaches, there are discussions in our house over who is going to move that mess this time, conversations that often end in the phrases “divorce” and/or “never speaking to you again” being flung about. Eventually, one or both of us will find ourselves doing the endless March of Degradation, lugging squelching bags of concrete down the driveway, wiping back tears and sweat and dignity.

8. Jasmine

Because of the trees, there are sections of the yard which sunlight has not touched since I moved in. The only thing that will grow here is jasmine, because that stuff claims its territory with a vengeance, so plant away we did. The only real maintenance here is trimming up the tendrils that grow over the defined borders.

So there I am with the manual clippers once again, crawling on my knees and snipping. And I just have one question. What the hell is that white stuff that oozes out of the severed stems, coating your hands with a powerful adhesive that results in skin being left on doorknobs. What IS that and why is it not being regulated in some way?

9. Ants

They are everywhere, no matter what you do or who you pay. You cannot escape them, these tiny minions of Satan who can send a grown man into hysterical fits of screaming and reflexive dancing just by gathering in military units and then marching across exposed flesh. And when they send out that synchronized signal to bite at the exact same time? This is proof that there truly is pure evil loose in the world.

10. Watering.

Finally, the one activity that I actually enjoy. Mainly because I’m the thing being watered, most of the time. Sure, I’ll attend to the parched plants and the thirsty bushes, splash the grass for a bit, but it’s really all about me, as the majority of the time the nozzle is pointed directly at my wretched existence, drenching myself in glorious spurts. After hours of sweaty, dirty toiling, trying to make the yard presentable for people who are only going to drive by without even glancing our direction, there’s nothing like sluicing away the pain with icy coldness on a hot summer day. It’s far better than sex could ever hope to be.

 

Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 07/01/10, and then in “Bonnywood Manor” on 05/31/14 and 06/17/16. Minimally revised for this current post. I should point out that I’ve had a lawn service for several years, so I’m no longer rewarding myself with borderline-erotic gushes of soothing agua on the front lawn, but the pain still lingers…

 

36 replies »

  1. I will never look at ants in the same way again! I feel the same way about mosquitoes – the precision with which they can find you ear at the exact moment you drift off to sleep can only be the work of the devil. To then spend the next hour turning the light on and off trying to find the little bugger is surely a taste of hell! Another laugh out loud post – thanks for a great start to my morning Brian :O) x

    Liked by 3 people

      • I have to say that, personally, I have nothing against ants but, then again, I have never been the victim of a red ant attack which sounds quite horrendous!!! My only experience has been with the black variety who often put on performance art pieces with the aid of leaves and small pieces of twig :O)
        Between the heat and the ants and the lawn pressure I am not sure how you cope during the month of August to be honest!
        I thought it was bad here (35 degrees and 75% humidity yesterday) but Dallas sounds as though Dante could have put it to good use in one of his missives.
        Stay cool Brian ;O) xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yard work. Yuck. I have experienced much of what you describe, except we now have really interesting recycling laws. Three bins with wheels but no bags (that’s the good part): one for grass, one for weeds, one for “other.” I don’t really get what the “other” is for. Dead bodies? And, they get inspected for proper separation. Then there’s all the bins for household stuff. The garbage trucks start coming by at four a.m. It’s exhausting. Planning for garbage collection day is a full-time job. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • Not to pass judgement, but those recycling laws seem to be a bit complicated. (Why would you separate weeds from grass, unless you’re harvesting marijuana?) Dallas is much more lax. With the “traditional” recycling, we used to have to separate paper, plastic and glass. This proved to be far too confusing for most of the populace, so now we can just throw everything into one recycling bin and let somebody else deal with our inability to function, a method which seems to be one of the main tenets of the Republican party. (You knew I would throw something political in there. Can’t help it.)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Haha. 🙂 Political comments are always welcome. 🙂 The weeds are separated out so that the grass clippings can be used for mulch in the parks. If weeds are in there, the seeds of these “noxious plants” will proliferate. I know this because I got a warning letter for not properly separating. Now about that third bin …

        Liked by 2 people

  3. There are few things I hate as much as yard work. Every spring I wonder why I look forward to summer when my workload increases exponentially. Nature is relentless and so far this summer, the weeds are winning.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Meanwhile in Couch Liberal Massachusetts, they all pay cash to the less fortunate to do their yard-work. They can then sit on their decks admiring their pristine yards and congratulating themselves on their socialist values. I, on the other hand do my own which has resulted in several cars slowing down when I’m trimming my shrubbery to ask my rates and availability. A different sort of curb-crawling, if you will 😉

    Liked by 5 people

    • See, this is another shining example of the many times when your words result in synapses firing in my brain over the images you convey. I could do wonders with the vision of you tending to your landscaping whilst queries are hurled from passing conveyances. (Working title “Horticulture and Hoopties”, subject to change.) Perhaps I could work in a subplot about the Couch Liberals, using an allegory that involves potatoes and a misunderstanding?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Crisis averted, thanks to you and Bonnywood Manor! I had resolved to go out and do some planting and weeding today. I can only imagine what disasters which may have befallen me. Instead, I’ll stay inside and read. Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Began to laugh hysterically at the visual sight of some poor soul, wandering lost into the path of the (evil) UPS truck delivering fruit of the month….and was unable to stop. Not that the preceding paragraphs weren’t just as funny…they WERE, but the cleaner is here and I was trying to keep up the illusion that I engage in refined lady activities..and refined ladies don’t EVER guffaw or snort, or belly laugh so hard that something unidentifiable flies out their nose. Now the cleaner knows my deep dark secret that I am not and never was that refined lady she thought she was employed by.

    Now it’s really NOT worth the fees, but you’ve just given me ten excellent reasons why paying the HOA to take care of all that yard mess is worthwhile…even though nobody mowing and edging speaks English (well that one guy does I guess). This may give rise to the idea that I live in one of those horrible snooty communities where people are named things like “Buffy” or “Muffy” or “Reginald”, and I don’t. Up in here we’re mostly just old, too old for foolishness like trying to maintain yards without breaking something or getting stuck and being unable to get up again. I’m not sure those push something and the ER people show up at your door buttons work outside anyway.

    Getting back to the track…I PAY for the privilege of never having to push things around a large grass square, and I’m never going to indulge again if I can help it. My sincerest condolences and now I have to go clean my keyboard, which is my sole nod at the exercise of maintaining a clean domicile and yard. Aw. Let ’em eat cake..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’ve been completely in your camp these last several years. I started using a lawn service while I was still with Verizon. Working 60 or 70 hours a week simply doesn’t leave time for changing one’s underwear, never mind attending to lawn ministrations. Once I retired, I briefly considered letting the service go, but I just couldn’t do it. Besides, he and his little crew can zip through this place and accomplish in 30 minutes what used to take me an entire Saturday. Why would I want to mess with that arrangement? And, truth be told, I can’t really complain about the cost when I get to lounge on a couch in the front room, sipping on a refreshing glass of lemon tee, whilst I gaze out the window and watch sweaty, muscular men do strenuous things. You find your rainbows where you can…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We don’t have to worry about 1–4 because we got rid of the lawn 18 years ago. But 5 is the bane of our lives. The neighbour’s biggest tree takes about 6 months to shed all its leaves and they all fall in our yard. Ugh, ugh, ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ugh, those leaves. We have massively-tall trees, with more limbs than some Texas towns have residents. The leaves never stop falling the entire year. (A brisk wind in late summer will bring down leaves that perished the previous winter.) And with all those branches, there are always a few dead limbs poised to break free and assault the mailman when he’s just trying to deliver my electric bill…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It took a minute to get past the image of underwear on the ceiling fan. Anyway, I used to love toiling outside, mowing, grubbing around in the garden, but a hinky spine and lack of time did their worst. Now, others do the stuff outside. I must take exception to one bit: “It’s far better than sex could ever hope to be.” Brian, baby, say it isn’t true. That’s not the way I remember it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had the same exact issue. But in the end things worked out, as it provides extra seating when we are showing obscure foreign films, and most people don’t pay attention to those things so it didn’t matter that they couldn’t really see the screen…

      Liked by 1 person

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